Toni Gardemeister has won the prologue stage of the 78th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Driving an Abarth Grande Punto, Gardemeister and co-driver Tomi Tuominen completed the 8.83-kilometre climb from Lente up the Col
de l’Echarasson to the finish at the foot of the Col de Gaudissart in a time of 6:54:2.
Although the results of the stage won’t count towards the final standings, they will have an influence on the starting order for Wednesday’s opening leg. But rather than tackling tomorrow’s four stages first on the road, Finn Gardemeister will be the tenth car to head out from the service park in Valence. That’s because the top ten seeded finishers from this evening’s test will run in reverse order when the action proper gets underway on Wednesday morning.
Nicolas Vouilloz, making his debut appearance in a Skoda Fabia S2000, was second fastest with Skoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecky third. Defending IRC champion Kris Meeke was fourth in a Peugeot 207, with Mikko Hirvonen giving M-Sport’s new Fiesta S2000 a promising debut with the fifth quickest time.